Frontline Initiative: DSPs Using the NADSP Code of Ethics

Family Matters


Darryl Lewis is a training coordinator and DSP specialist at ADAPT Community Network in New York, New York. Darryl can be reached at

A man wearing a black suit and an orange bow tie smiles for the camera. He holds up a peace sign with one hand.

Darryl Lewis, author and NADSP E-Badge earner.

While working in a residential program I met a man named James Green. James was an older gentleman who kept to himself most of the time. Like the people he lived with, James received support, but unlike them, he didn’t have any family visitors. Most of the staff only interacted with James for work purposes; they never really held a meaningful conversation with him.

One day James was sitting in the backyard, and I decided to sit with him. I struck up a conversation with James and asked him about his family. James stated that he only had one brother, who was killed in a fire. I said, “Wow, I am sorry to hear that.” He also told me that he couldn’t go to the service because it was in New Jersey. James began to cry because he felt guilty for not attending the service or even visiting his brother’s grave. After our talk, I decided to speak with the manager and house social worker about James. They stated that James did not have a brother or any family members.

James began to cry because he felt guilty for not attending the service or even visiting his brother’s grave.

The next day I spoke with James again about his brother and I asked him if he was telling me the truth. James said yes and gave me his brother’s name and the little town in New Jersey where he lived. On my own time, I started looking up information about James’s brother. I found out that James was telling the truth. His brother was killed in a fire. To my surprise, James’ brother had a wife and kids who now lived in Queens, New York. I informed James of the good news and he was very excited. I asked James if he would like to call and introduce himself to them over the phone. James was a little nervous about calling and asked if I would call for him. I put the phone on speaker and made the call, and James’ sister-in-law wanted to meet him. I informed the manager of our good news, and she was very happy that James was finally going to meet some of his family.

His sister-in-law visited him and brought pictures of his brother and other family members. James was so excited that he was introducing her to everyone in the house. James also met his two nephews, and they became very close. They even took James to New Jersey to visit his brother’s grave. James’ entire life changed after meeting his family. He started going out more and involving himself in activities at home and in his program. James wanted to have something to talk with his family about when he spoke with them. Everyone was so happy that James was finally enjoying life. The team thanked me for not giving up and completing the necessary paperwork to help James find his family.

I was determined to help James find his family at all costs, and by using person-centered practices and looking out for his emotional well-being, I was able to help him achieve his dream of having a family.

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